Duchenne muscular dystrophy remains an untreatable genetic disease that severely limits motility and life expectancy in affected children. The only animal model specifically reproducing the alterations in the dystrophin gene and the full spectrum of human pathology is the golden retriever dog model. Affected animals present a single mutation in intron 6, resulting in complete absence of the dystrophin protein, and early and severe muscle degeneration with nearly complete loss of motility and walking ability. Death usually occurs at about 1 year of age as a result of failure of respiratory muscles. Here we report that intra-arterial delivery of wild-type canine mesoangioblasts (vessel-associated stem cells) results in an extensive recovery of dystrophin expression, normal muscle morphology and function (confirmed by measurement of contraction force on single fibres). The outcome is a remarkable clinical amelioration and preservation of active motility. These data qualify mesoangioblasts as candidates for future stem cell therapy for Duchenne patients.
Preclinical or clinical trials for muscular dystrophies have met with modest success, mainly because of inefficient delivery of viral vectors or donor cells to dystrophic muscles. We report here that intra-arterial delivery of wild-type mesoangioblasts, a class of vessel-associated stem cells, corrects morphologically and functionally the dystrophic phenotype of virtually all downstream muscles in adult immunocompetent alpha-sarcoglycan (alpha-SG) null mice, a model organism for limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. When mesoangioblasts isolated from juvenile dystrophic mice and transduced with a lentiviral vector expressing alpha-SG were injected into the femoral artery of dystrophic mice, they reconstituted skeletal muscle in a manner similar to that seen in wild-type cells. The success of this protocol was mainly due to widespread distribution of donor stem cells through the capillary network, a distinct advantage of this strategy over previous approaches.
Recent evidence points to a strong relationship between increased mitochondrial biogenesis and increased survival in eukaryotes. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been shown to extend chronological life span in yeast. However, the role of these amino acids in mitochondrial biogenesis and longevity in mammals is unknown. Here, we show that a BCAA-enriched mixture (BCAAem) increased the average life span of mice. BCAAem supplementation increased mitochondrial biogenesis and sirtuin 1 expression in primary cardiac and skeletal myocytes and in cardiac and skeletal muscle, but not in adipose tissue and liver of middle-aged mice, and this was accompanied by enhanced physical endurance. Moreover, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) defense system genes were upregulated, and ROS production was reduced by BCAAem supplementation. All of the BCAAem-mediated effects were strongly attenuated in endothelial nitric oxide synthase null mutant mice. These data reveal an important antiaging role of BCAAs mediated by mitochondrial biogenesis in mammals.
Biopsy samples were taken from vastus lateralis muscle of seven young (YO, age 30.2 +/- 2.2 years), and seven elderly (EL, age 72.7 +/- 2.3 years) subjects and two elderly subjects whose right leg had been immobilized for 3.5 months (EL-IMM, ages 70 and 75). The following main parameters were studied: (1) myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform distribution of the samples, determined by SDS-PAGE; (2) cross-sectional area (CSA), specific force (Po/CSA) and maximum shortening velocity (Vo) of a large population (n = 593) of single skinned muscle fibres, classified on the basis of MHC isoform composition determined by SDS-PAGE; (3) actin sliding velocity (Vf) on pure myosin isoforms determined by in vitro motility assays; (4) myosin concentration in single fibres determined by quantitative SDS-PAGE. MHC isoform distribution was shifted towards fast isoforms in EL and to a larger extent in EL-IMM. In EL and, more consistently, in EL-IMM we observed a higher percentage of hybrid fibres than in YO, and noted the presence of MHC-neonatal and of unusual hybrid fibres containing more than two MHC isoforms. Po/CSA significantly decreased in type 1 and 2A fibres in the order YO EL EL-IMM. Vo of type 1 and 2A fibres was significantly lower in EL and higher in EL-IMM than in YO, i.e. immobilization more than counteracted the age-dependent decrease in Vo. The latter phenomenon was not observed for Vf. Vf on myosin 1 was lower in both EL and EL-IMM than in YO. Vf on myosin 2X was lower in EL than in YO, and a similar trend was observed for myosin 2A. Myosin concentration decreased in type 1 and 2A fibres in the order YO EL EL-IMM and was linearly related to the Po/CSA values of corresponding fibre types from the same subjects. The experiments suggest that (1) myosin concentration is a major determinant of the lower Po/CSA of single fibres in ageing and especially following immobilization and (2) ageing is associated with lower Vo of single fibres due to changes in the properties of myosin itself, whereas immobilization is associated with higher Vo in the absence of a change in myosin function.
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is an autosomal dominant neuromuscular disorder that is not due to a classical mutation within a protein-coding gene. Instead, almost all FSHD patients carry deletions of an integral number of tandem 3.3-kilobase repeat units, termed D4Z4, located on chromosome 4q35 (ref. 3). D4Z4 contains a transcriptional silencer whose deletion leads to inappropriate overexpression in FSHD skeletal muscle of 4q35 genes located upstream of D4Z4 (ref. 4). To identify the gene responsible for FSHD pathogenesis, we generated transgenic mice selectively overexpressing in skeletal muscle the 4q35 genes FRG1, FRG2 or ANT1. We find that FRG1 transgenic mice develop a muscular dystrophy with features characteristic of the human disease; by contrast, FRG2 and ANT1 transgenic mice seem normal. FRG1 is a nuclear protein and several lines of evidence suggest it is involved in pre-messenger RNA splicing. We find that in muscle of FRG1 transgenic mice and FSHD patients, specific pre-mRNAs undergo aberrant alternative splicing. Collectively, our results suggest that FSHD results from inappropriate overexpression of FRG1 in skeletal muscle, which leads to abnormal alternative splicing of specific pre-mRNAs.
Maximum shortening velocity (V0) was determined in single fibres dissected from hind limb skeletal muscles of rabbit and mouse and classified according to their myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform composition. The values for rabbit and mouse V0 were compared with the values previously obtained in man and rat under identical experimental conditions. Significant differences in V0 were found between fibres containing corresponding myosin isoforms in different species: as a general rule for each isoform V0 decreased with body mass. Myosin isoform distributions of soleus and tibialis anterior were analysed in mouse, rat, rabbit and man: the proportion of slow myosin generally increased with increasing body size. The diversity between V0 of corresponding myosin isoforms and the different myosin isoform composition of corresponding muscles determine the scaling of shortening velocity of whole muscles with body size, which is essential for optimisation of locomotion. The speed of actin translocation (Vf) in in vitro motility assay was determined with myosins extracted from single muscle fibres of all four species: significant differences were found between myosin isoforms in each species and between corresponding myosin isoforms in different species. The values of V0 and Vf determined for each myosin isoform were significantly correlated, strongly supporting the view that the myosin isoform expressed is the major determinant of maximum shortening velocity in muscle fibres.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a common X-linked disease characterized by widespread muscle damage that invariably leads to paralysis and death. There is currently no therapy for this disease. Here we report that a subpopulation of circulating cells expressing AC133, a well-characterized marker of hematopoietic stem cells, also expresses early myogenic markers. Freshly isolated, circulating AC133 + cells were induced to undergo myogenesis when cocultured with myogenic cells or exposed to Wnt-producing cells in vitro and when delivered in vivo through the arterial circulation or directly into the muscles of transgenic scid/mdx mice (which allow survival of human cells). Injected cells also localized under the basal lamina of host muscle fibers and expressed satellite cell markers such as M-cadherin and MYF5. Furthermore, functional tests of injected muscles revealed a substantial recovery of force after treatment. As these cells can be isolated from the blood, manipulated in vitro, and delivered through the circulation, they represent a possible tool for future cell therapy applications in DMD disease or other muscular dystrophies.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a hereditary disease caused by mutations that disrupt the dystrophin mRNA reading frame. In some cases, forced exclusion (skipping) of a single exon can restore the reading frame, giving rise to a shorter, but still functional, protein. In this study, we constructed lentiviral vectors expressing antisense oligonucleotides in order to induce an efficient exon skipping and to correct the initial frameshift caused by the DMD deletion of CD133+ stem cells. The intramuscular and intra-arterial delivery of genetically corrected CD133 expressing myogenic progenitors isolated from the blood and muscle of DMD patients results in a significant recovery of muscle morphology, function, and dystrophin expression in scid/mdx mice. These data demonstrate that autologous engrafting of blood or muscle-derived CD133+ cells, previously genetically modified to reexpress a functional dystrophin, represents a promising approach for DMD.
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